Minnesota Vikings re-sign DE Everson Griffen

This move was made right before the start of free agency and it was a real head scratcher. However, I’ve held off on grading it until now because there was a chance that the increased salary cap meant we might see a lot of head scratching deals this off-season and I like to grade on a curve and grade moves against each other. That hasn’t been the case. When you compare this deal (42.5 million over 5 years) to the deals received by LaMarr Houston (35 million over 5 years), Michael Bennett (4 years, 28.5 million) and Michael Johnson (43.75 million over 5 years), it easily looks like one of the worst moves of the off-season.

Michael Johnson was Pro Football Focus’ 13th ranked 4-3 defensive end in 2012 and 4th ranked 4-3 defensive end in 2013. LaMarr Houston was Pro Football Focus’ 19th ranked 4-3 defensive end in 2011, 9th ranked 4-3 defensive end in 2012, and 11th ranked 4-3 defensive end in 2013. Michael Bennett was Pro Football Focus’ 7th ranked 4-3 defensive end in 2011, 7th ranked 4-3 defensive end in 2012, and 5th ranked 4-3 defensive end in 2013. Meanwhile, Everson Griffen has one career start. It’s not quite as bad as that sounds because he’s been a talented reserve and he has upside.

However, those supporting this deal seem to be overestimating his upside. Sure, he has 14 sacks over the past 2 seasons despite being a reserve, but he’s actually played as much as some starters in terms of pass rush snaps with 423 pass rush snaps played in 2012 and 449 pass rush snaps played in 2013. All of a sudden, he doesn’t seem as efficient as he once did. He only ranked 29th out of 62 eligible in pass rush efficiency among 4-3 defensive ends in 2012 and only ranked 21st out of 52 eligible in pass rush efficiency among 4-3 defensive ends in 2013.

He’s graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 36th ranked 4-3 defensive end in 2012 and 19th ranked 4-3 defensive end in 2013. With Jared Allen likely gone, I said in the Vikings’ off-season preview that I expected him to re-sign with the Vikings on a multi-year deal that paid him like a starting caliber player because I knew he had upside. I expected him to get something like 25 million over 5 years. That being said, the notion that he will suddenly become a dominant defensive lineman because he’s now a starter is absurd. And even if he somehow does, I don’t know who else would have paid him 42.5 million over 5 years with 20 million dollars guaranteed. They overpaid him by about 17.5 million dollars over 5 years.

Grade: F

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